Let it Refine You

Well hey everyone!  It’s good to be back.  I planned on taking a little break but it just ended up being a little longer than planned.  But that’s ok, because that’s kind of how life is right?  We think we have it all figured out or we have a plan and then the Lord comes in and says, “nope, I’ve got something else prepared for you…it’s going to be hard but it’s something better.”  

And that’s kind of how I feel about this whole past year.  I was looking back recently at some of the goals that I set for myself at the beginning of the year and I am nowhere near where I thought I would be because of the circumstances that I went through in the beginning months of this year.  And you know what?  I am not even unhappy about it!

 I feel like I am in such a better place than what I would have been.  I don’t know for sure, I mean my situation today would certainly look different than it does.  But I can most assuredly tell you that I see the hand of the Lord working in and over my life in so many ways as I look back and as I see things unfolding before me looking forward.

It’s a marvelous thing to have the spirit of the Lord guiding and directing you as you go.  But in that, there is a lot of ongoing work that has to take place to get to that point.

 As you may have guessed from the title I’m going to talk just a little bit about the refining process that we go through when faced with trials, challenges, adversity, etc. And how we can gain the inner strength to let them be a refining process rather than a defining process. 

It is the 50th episode!!!  YAY!!!! I felt like I should definitely lean in to what we are all about here at “pointing toward hope”.  And I feel like the pieces for this episode have kind of been collecting over the last several days as I have had mini moments of inspiration when things that I heard or read or dreamt just sunk in.  So I am going to try to collect all of those things and hopefully organize them into something that will be meaningful and impactful for you as you listen today.

I found a great talk By Ellen W. Smoot from April 2002 General Conference talk Called Developing Inner Strength.  I will be referring to that  throughout this podcast and will link it in the notes.  I loved this question she posed.  “How do you and I become so converted to the truth, so full of faith, so dependent on God that we are able to meet trials and even be strengthened by them?”

That just got me thinking about how we sometimes tend to lean into our trials more than lean into the Lord.  If that makes sense. 

For example, we might tend to say this is just who I am, this is how it’s always gonna be and there isn’t a thing that I can do about it.  So in my situation instead of saying I HAVE bipolar, it becomes I AM bipolar.  Which is a totally false statement.  

Do you see the difference? To say I AM something… is basically removing the possibility that I can change it from something that defines me. Just changing that one word or that one negative feeling, can allow me to turn it into something that refines me and grows me as a person if I let it.  

From my standpoint, having Bipolar is definitely not something I enjoy. But it’s definitely not who I AM either.  Changing my view of it has allowed me to turn something that has such a negative connotation into something of a miracle.

When YOU do this, then you can see the opportunity in the trial to make it into something miraclous. Something that will strengthen you from the inside to the outside.

Personally, I have worked really hard to take that feeling of being defined by my trial to being strengthened by and through it. I’ve tried to turn it into something positive that I can learn and grow from rather than feeling defeated by it. Which is not easy at all!  To be honest, somedays it just downright stinks and I do feel totally defeated by it. There are just so many negative feelings that surround it.  

I don’t think that I’m alone in that, when it comes to trials or adversity.  There are a lot of situations where negative feelings and thinking take place. Thinking that you are defined by your trial, can happen with a lot of different types of experiences that we go through. 

There are so many big traumatic parts of your life for sure!  I am not diminishing those experiences in any way!  

However, I feel like our tendency as human beings having an Earthly experience, we do tend to want to let those things define us or maybe we tend to look at them with negative thoughts and feelings. Like this is how other people define me or describe me.

I mean I could fall into that category very easily by letting those labels that are thrown around so lightly, be overwhelming and  defeating.  But I have gotten to the point where when someone says something like, “So and so is so dramatic and does this and this and this, they are definitely Bipolar”.  I can blow that off.  It always stings a little and sometimes I want to get defensive about it.  But I’ve learned that I can’t take things like that personally.  And you have to understand that when someone says something hurtful in a situation like that, they probably don’t have any idea that you were hurt.  So why make yourself a victim over it?

Anyway, I kind of got sidetracked there for a little bit but I want you to just take a second and think about some of the things in your life that you see as negative experiences or trials.  Maybe it’s not a sickness or illnes. Maybe it’s something that happened when you were a child, a mistake you made, or something that happened unexpectedly that has changed your life immensely.  We’ve all experienced that in the last two years haven’t we?  

The point I’m trying to get at is, can we try to see ourselves and our trials as a growing, learning, refining process? Think of it as being purified and polished just as a piece of metal when it’s being molded? And I’ll talk a bit more about that in a minute.

Recently, there was a brilliant woman that gave a talk in my church.  And I think her talk was what kind of started the ball rolling for me.  She gave so many good nuggets of wisdom.  Her topic was having gratitude through adversity.  That kind of sounds like an oxymoron, right?  I mean how do you have gratitude when you’re going through really difficult situations? 

While I was listening to her speak (it was a phenomenal talk btw) I kept having a thought run through my mind that I’d heard someone say on a podcast that I listen to.  “Sometimes the miracle is IN the tragedy”.  I don’t know why I was thinking that specific thought, but maybe it was because when we are going through something, anything really, if we try to look at it from a different perspective (which is what I think having gratitude in adversity means), then the whole experience can become a beautiful miracle.

At the end of this woman’s talk she said one thing that I have talked about before here on the podcast. And if you weren’t paying attention to her talk then you would have missed it.  She said, when it comes to hard things and being grateful for them, think of them as refining you, NOT defining you!  And even though I’ve said it myself many times, the way she paired it with gratitude just made me look at it from a little different perspective.  

There is a video that I have watched and I’ll try to link it if I can find it again.  About the process that a Blacksmith goes through when refining metal.  I’m not sure if you are familiar with the process but let me just explain somewhat. It is a long and grueling process that requires intense heat and repeated hammering. A refiner is really good at knowing when the fire is hot enough but not too hot!  And you also have to use fire and water, and you need to know how to use both of them together.  And the reason is because the Blacksmith (or the refiner) needs to be able to bend and mold that piece of metal into something completely different.  Free from impurities and something polished and beautiful.

Nobody wants to go through a refining process, right?  I mean it is super intense.  But in this process from what I understand the refiner is right there the whole time.  He is completely in the entire process.  The metal can not be left alone.  There are certain things that need to happen at certain times.  And you love this because in Isaiah, he teaches us about what our refiner, meaning Jesus Christ is like, when he says this in 

Chapter 43:1-3  1 But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob (insert your name), and he that formed thee, O Israel (insert your name), Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.

2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

3 For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour…

So He’s basically saying, Don’t you worry, I am going to be here every step of the way.  I love you and I’m not going to leave you!

Is’nt that just so cool?  He knows when the water comes and you feel like you’re drowning, He’s gonna be there!  He knows when you feel like you are walking through fire and the heat is too intense and you want to give up, He’s gonna be there!

He is our refiner.  

So I want you to remember that process as we talk about a couple of other mini moments of inspiration that I had this past week.  So I was reading the Book of Heleman, and if you are familiar with this part of the Book Mormon, it is part of the war chapters and it can be difficult chapters to get through.  But I determined when I started the war chapters back in Alma that I was going to get something to apply to my life out of these chapters.  And you guys,  I feel like the Lord answered my prayers on that so completely.  I have really had so many mini moments.  So I encourage you to really dig into those chapters and see if you can’t grab some gold nuggets out of there.  

Anyway, back to Helaman it is Chapter 3 So just a refresher this is a time when many people are dissenting from the church and persecuting members of the church.  At that time Nephi the son of Helaman is filling the judgement seat and he decides that because of the persecution they are going to leave Zarahemla and move to the land Northward.  And it says it was a great distance. And you know they didn’t have cars and carts and all that back then. So I’m sure they were traveling with everything on their backs or their donkeys.  It was probably extremely hot and they were thirsty and it was super hard.  

And it says they crossed over many waters and rivers (remember the water and the heat of the refiner’s fire?).  And when they arrived it was a land called Desolate.  Why? Because there was nothing on the land it was barron, everyone!  And so what did they do.  In verse 7 it says this: nevertheless the people who went forth became exceedingly aexpert…..  And then it goes on to say how they built houses and when trees grew they took care of them until they could use them.  They built cities!  So they took this trial that was upon them and they turned it into something amazing. And the Lord was with them through every step.

But then in verse 16 I believe, it was Mormon talking here.  He goes back to before they left Zarahemla to explain what was happening there and what caused them to leave.  And the following verse is what stopped me that morning.   

35 It reads  Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.

And that’s the word that caught me, everyone! Yielding.  What happens when we yield?  We give others the right of way, right?  So in this case they are yielding their hearts to the Lord!  They are turning it over to the Lord knowing that he will sanctify them and purify them.  Just like a Blacksmith does with the metal.  When it is under that intense heat it is purifying it.  Jesus is our refiner!  He sees things from a much grander perspective.  He can turn us into something beautiful.  Something so much more than we can achieve on our own.  

It just gives me chills when I think about how many times the Savior has walked with me through my trials, and turned them into a miracle.

It reminds me of when I was younger and I went through a pretty hard experience with some friends.  I won’t get into the details, but I will tell you that it was something that happened to me way back when I was barely 13.  And it concerned being bullied. 

So you can imagine at 13, you are at such an impressionable age and you’re molding your identity and just changing so much and trying to figure out who you are. 

And just at the peak of that time in my life is when this experience happened.  It was an event that happened because of something careless that I said to someone, not thinking anything of it.  Someone walking behind us heard it, and within minutes….. I’m not even kidding.  I was surrounded by a group of girls pointing and laughing and bullying me.  My friends that were with me when they surrounded me, quickly slipped out of the circle.  And I felt so alone at that moment. 

And to make matters worse, the bullying continued for several weeks.  To the point that the principal and parents got involved.  It was really quite hard as a 13 year old.  I remember days when I thought I just couldn’t go to school.  I would get stomach aches thinking about it.  It still makes me anxious to this day. 

But it was during that time that I decided to yield my heart to the Lord.  What did he want me to do?  I decided that I needed to have my patriarchal blessing. 

So we scheduled it.  And I was determined that I was going to prepare myself and be so ready for this because I really, really needed to hear from the Lord himself that everything was going to be ok.  

So I did those things from verse 35… I fasted and I prayed and I humbled myself and I had faith that the Lord would come to me. Or at least be with me during this fire that I was experiencing. I yielded my heart to Him with all that I had. 

Well the night came that we were to go to the blessing and I remember so distinctly like it was yesterday.  I was so nervous and my palms were sweating and my stomach was growling and the Patriarch seemed to talk forever before he started the blessing.  

And so he began… it was still and quiet except for when his clock chimed at the beginning.  And at that moment I got my miracle.  In the midst of my trial I recieved a miracle.  It wasn’t from the words that were said, because honestly he was very well spoken and I didn’t understand a lot of the big words he used.  Or the way he worded it.  It was like scripture.  But…. I do remember how I felt.  When his hands and my father’s hands were on my head and the patriarch called upon the priesthood power, I felt a tangible presence like I’d nver known before.  And it stayed with me until the clock chimed again and the patriarch closed the prayer.  

It was so powerful that as we were driving home I remember asking my dad if someone else had joined them in the prayer.  He was surprised at that of course and I explained what I had felt.  And my parent’s and I were all in awe at the sacredness of that moment.  He was there to let me know that He was with me every step of the way.

When I got my blessing and read it.  There was one little part that talked about the friends I would have in my life.  And some counsel on the importance of choosing good friends. 

One thing that I determined at that time, is that I would do everything in my power to never make anyone feel the way I had through that experience

It left such an impression on me that I have never doubted the power of the priesthood.  And I never hesitated to call upon it in times of great need. 

Would I have been able to have that experience if I hadn’t gone through the bullying and felt abandoned by my friends?  Maybe, but I don’t think so.  I had to go through that trial to experience the miracle.

So let’s go back to talking about finding that inner strength to keep moving forward. As we have been studying the Doctrine in Covenants, in come follow me, about all the horrible things that the early members of the church went through, it has made me think more about where that inner strength comes from.

“In sister Smoot’s talk she shares an experience from a Pioneer woman who traveled across the plains from Navoo, ILL to Utah.

She shared the following: “To demonstrate the kind of inner strength I am talking about, I would like to share the story of Susanna Stone Lloyd, who at the age of 26 left England in 1856 and traveled to Utah alone. The only member of her family to join the Church, Susanna was a member of the Willie Handcart Company. Like so many other pioneers, she endured life-threatening hunger, illness, and fatigue.

Upon arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Susanna borrowed a mirror to make herself more presentable. Despite her best efforts, she recounts: “I shall never forget how I looked. Some of my old friends did not know me.” Having sold her own mirror to an Indian for a piece of buffalo meat, she had not spent much time looking at herself. Now she did not recognize her own image. She was a different person, both inside and out. Over the course of rocky ridges and extreme hardship came a deep conviction. Her faith had been tried, and her conversion was concrete. She had been refined in ways that the very best mirror could not reflect. Susanna had prayed for strength and found it—deep within her soul.

If someone like Susannah can take a horrible situation like that and turn it into something so beautiful, can we?  I am sure that she had to dig pretty deep within her soul to find the strength that comes in and through our Savior.  Because let’s face it.  We don’t get through these experiences without divine intervention.  We can try.  But speaking from experience, it sure is a lot harder when we try to do it alone.  Without the help of our refiner.

We can walk through the fire on our own.  We can feel like we’re drowning in our adversity.  We can be hammered over and over again by the  happenings of this mortal life. But it is so much more doable when we allow our Refiner, Jesus Christ, to be a part of the process.  This proving process.  This refining and growing and polishing process.  Yes it stinks.  Yes it hurts.  But at some point we will be able to look back and see the tiny mercies.  The little miracles.  And in the end.  If we endure it well, we can come out having been molded into something beautiful that anyone who looked upon us would just say, “wow”!

Have you ever done that when you have seen something that someone made that was so intricate and detailed and beautiful that all you can say is, “wow”?  That’s the kind of miracle I’m talking about.

I promise you, everyone.  You CAN receive a miracle in the midst of your trial.  I have no doubt that the Savior is walking with you through it!  He is in the process every step of the way.  He won’t leave you.  He can’t leave you!  In order for you to be molded through the fires of life He has to remain by your side, so that the right things happen at the right time.

Lean on Him.  Trust Him.  Pray and fast often.  Be humble and YIELD your heart to him.  Let him take the lead.  And then follow Him!  I beg you to follow Him with all of your refined and purified and polished heart! 

That’s it for today my friends! If you or a friend have had an experience that you’d like to share.  Please contact me, I’d love to have you on the show. Talk to you again soon!

Hearing and Hindering Part 2

I divided this blog into 2 parts.  So if you haven’t listened or read part 1, go back and do that.  It will give you some context.  This is Episode 49 Hearing and Hindering part 2. 

Today is a subject that I approach with a little trepidation.  And the reason for that is that I really don’t want to dwell on something negative.  Or give any credit to the adversary.  However, I do believe it is incredibly crucial for us to understand how the adversary works, so that we can avoid those fiery darts (or be shielded from) as I talked about last week. And one of the things that I have learned throughout my life is that Satan is especially cunning at getting us to fall for his evil ways.

He’s been successful once or twice in getting me to walk away from the Gospel and the church that I dearly love.  I have grown up learning daily how to walk in the ways of Christ.  So you would think that would be enough to ward off all of Satan’s ploys.  But unfortunately that is not enough.  In fact I think he works even harder when we are trying to be obedient and live righteously.

I mean think about it.  We have been on this Earth for less than 80 years (most of us less) but the adversary has been around since the beginning of time.  So he has had a lot of practice honing his evil skills.  Which makes it that much more important for us to be ever vigilant in keeping ourselves prepared and aware of the way that he works on each of us individually. 

Last week we talked about specific habits, or patterns that we use to effectively learn how the Lord speaks to us and prompts us.  And this week we are going to talk a little bit about the contrast of that.  Which is how the adversary lulls and tempts with certain ways or approaches that are tailored, unfortunately, to us as individuals.  And works to get us to stop those good habits that we’ve worked so hard to create. So it’s so important that you learn how this happens for you, so you can put those habits back in place. It’s time to fight back.

I will be referring alot to Peter M. Johnson’s talk from October 2019, Power to Overcome Adversity, (one of my Absolute favorites talks of all time).  

One thing that I have learned to be wary of, is how slowly Satan works.  It happens SO slowly! Think of the 1% marginal gains that we talked about last week.  The fiery darts that he throws can be almost imperceptible if you aren’t paying attention.  One small act at a time.  One small thought at a time.  One small step at a time.  And before you know it, you’re doing or saying things that you never ever thought you would. Going places that you never imagined.   And worse than that is that you have accepted it and even believe that it’s the right way to do things or say things.  Or right where you need to be.

Ugggg I hate to even think about how awful he is.   I heard Marie Osmond say once that she won’t even give him a name.  She call’s him “scratch”.  Because sometimes he acts like an itch that just won’t leave you alone.

But the great thing is this!  We were being prepared long before this lifetime with all of the tools that we need to fight the battles that will come our way.  We are taught by President Nelson that  we are “choice spirits who were reserved to come forth in the fulness of times to take part in laying the foundations of the great latter-day work.”  

In Doctrine and Covenants 138:56  We read: Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men.

Which means that we are all pretty skilled already.  But those skills do take some honing. 

And one of the ways that we do that is to put on the WHOLE  Armor of God on! As explained in Ephesians 6:10-18   And we’ll talk about this in a little bit. 

In The Book Of Mormon (another testament of Jesus Christ) Mormon Chapter 8  gives us insight into today’s world, Moroni says he has seen our day, and it includes wars and rumors of wars, great pollutions, murders, robbing, and people who tell us that there is no right or wrong in God’s eyes. He describes people who are filled with pride, caught up in the wearing of expensive clothing, and who make fun of religion. He is shown people who are so obsessed with worldly things that they allow “the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by”3 without being noticed.  Sounds a lot like today’s times doesn’t it?

But we should not despair, it is the Lord’s way that will lead us to life eternal!

The prophet David O. Mckay taught: Christ is the light to humanity. In that light man sees his way clearly; when it is rejected, the soul of man stumbles in darkness. No person, no group, no nation can achieve true success without following him who said:

“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12.)

Are any of us exempt from the power of the adversary?  Nope, however, through it all, our Savior is with us. He is the advocate to the Father! So even if we fall prey to some of the adversaries’ lies, and make mistakes that we feel keep us from the light, there is always a way back.  I am living proof of that!

So in what ways can we learn how Satan works on us as indivduals.  Well, Elder Johnson had something to say about that.  He said, “You are elect sons and daughters of God. You have the power to overcome the adversary. The adversary, however, is aware of who you are. He knows of your divine heritage and seeks to limit your earthly and heavenly potential by using  three Ds:

  • Deception
  • Distraction
  • Discouragement”

Now it’s important to note that there are more ways than what Elder Johnson refers to that the adversary uses, like doubt, rejection, stress, etc.  But I loved how he used these 3 because I think they are probably common among most people.

Deception, This is a very sneaky way that is used.  For example, how many times have you heard commercials or seen ads promising instant weight loss?  Or here’s how you can have the body you always wanted in as little as 1 week? I don’t think these people do these things intentionally to hurt us.  But I do believe that it is a tool of deception to get us to forget who we are and where we came from.  And to focus on our physical bodies rather than our spiritual potential.

]We are sons and daughters of the most high God.  And there is no magic pill, or workout that can ever change that.  But sometimes we sure feel like we need to be more than we are don’t we? Elder Johnson says, “The adversary attempts to deceive by having us forget who we truly are. If we do not understand who we are, then it is difficult to recognize who we can become.”  

Distraction Wow!  This is a big one right?!  We have everything we could possibly think of to keep our minds busy and too distracted to realize what’s really happening.  Remember how slowly I said that the adversary works?  Just think about this for a minute. According to statisa.com As of 2019 and 2020, the average daily social media usage of internet users worldwide amounted to 145 minutes per day!  That’s more than 2 hours, which doesn’t seem too terrible right? I mean our parents probably spent equal amounts of time watching the T.V. before the invention of the smartphone.  

But think about it this way.  145 minutes per day is 14 hours per week. 728 hours per year!  That’s roughly 30 days out of a 365 day year that we waste staring at our screens looking to be entertained or engaged in some way.  Wait what? Nearly one whole month a year? Holy moley!  That’s alot.

Now I’m not saying that there are not great things on social media that can be teaching you and helping you to learn and grow.  I mean I would consider podcasting/blogging a form of social media so there is that! Haha. 

I did my own little experiment of social media a few weeks ago when I went on a trip to visit family.  I was there for 10 days and so I thought, “you know”,  I am just going to delete all my social media apps so I can be fully present for my family while I’m there.  I don’t want any distractions making me waste my time with them.  And you know what’s crazy? I hardly missed it at all!  

I was having such a good time enjoying my “extra” time with them that I even decided to extend it another week after I returned home so I could be prepared for General Conference.  And guess what? That was really hard.  I had a little more free time.  And I think Satan works extra hard on all members of the church before General Conference.  The last thing he wants is for us to receive personal revelation from the Lord through our prophets, seers, and revelators.  He’s a sly one! 

There are a whole lot more distractions than social media.  But I just wanted to give you a peek at one of the ways the adversary uses pretty effectively.

The third D from elder Johnson’s talk is “discouragement. We may get discouraged when we compare ourselves to others or feel we are not living up to expectations, including our own.

I was watching a show the other night with my bonus son.  And I couldn’t believe it when I heard a statement that hit me hard.  Discouragement is one of the big ways that the adversary uses to get to ME personally.   

Last week I talked about how I put on a brave face or sometimes I refer to it as a mask or “the happy face”.   I do that so people will think that I’m fine and not be uncomfortable around me.  So when I heard this it really sunk in. It said, “A mask doesn’t heal the wounds.  A mask only hides them.”

It got me thinking about all the reason’s that other people put on a “mask” Whether it be illness, identity, abuse, etc.  Sometimes I even think that as a mom with small children we can put on that brave face even though we are so stressed and so spread thin that we can barely think straight. 

But one thing that I’m sure of, is that Satan tries to get us to keep that mask on.  He feeds us with even more reasons that we should be discouraged such as, comparing ourselves to other moms or others who have gone through similar things and come out sparkling.  He tells us that people won’t believe us, or will laugh at us, or that we will feel even smaller than we already feel.  He may make us feel like we aren’t living up to other’s expectations of us, or maybe even our own expectations! 

I am inviting you today to join me and take off your mask.  Let yourself be vulnerable.  It is the only way that we will be able to heal the wounds of the darts that have already found their mark.  Most of the thoughts that we have that discourage us are truly just that!  Thoughts!  So if we can take off that mask we may find out that there are a lot of people who are waiting to support and help us walk our journey. 

Elder Johnson goes on to say “please do not let anyone steal your happiness. Do not compare yourself to others. Please remember the loving words of the Savior: John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”   

So how do we do it? How do we find this peace, remember who we are, take off our masks, and overcome the traps of the adversary?  

Ironically, alot of the same patterns and habits that we learn to apply to hear the Lord speak to us are the same as those that help us to ward off and stay safe from the adversary’s attacks. So another reason to be very vigilant in making and keeping those good habits.  And remember that it is the 1% gains (being consistent with them) each day.

What I wanted to mention today and discuss a little is what I talked about earlier today. 

Putting on the whole armor of God.  This is something that you have to do ALL THE TIME.  ALL DAY, EVERY DAY!  You must do all the little things EVERY DAY!  Sometimes more than just once a day.  You MUST strive to keep yourself unspotted from the world.  You must strive to live IN the world but not be OF the world.  Notice I added the word “ strive”, because it’s important to remember that it’s an ongoing process.  We don’t just adopt and keep habits overnight.

The adversary’s goal is to keep us focused on the distractions, the deception, the discouragement.  He wants us to have doubts, be stressed out, feel rejected and left out…all the terrible things.  

Those are all the fiery darts that he is throwing at us day in and day out.  And President Nelson has said, and it has been repeated over and over, “… in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.”

So what is the armor of God.  Well, let’s just break it down.  I remember talking about this when I was in high school seminary.  My teacher had an outline of a warrior all dressed up in every piece of the armor and we were to go through and label each piece with what it was guarding.  And then we taped it to the inside of our scriptures in  Ephesians 6:10-18  with a reference to Doctrine and Covenants 27:15-18.  

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

I remember watching a movie in seminary about warriors that were watching the woods.  They had all the armor on and were super cautious.  But at one point, one of the warriors got to a waterbed and took off his helmet to get a drink of water.  The enemy was waiting for just such a moment and the arrow pierced him quickly.  Luckily we are not facing those kinds of threats in our day and time.  But the enemy is just as watchful and waiting for the moment that we let our guard down, to pounce.

However, I am comforted to know that I need not fear for He is with me, I know where and how to find the peace that only He can give.

Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Doctrine and Covenants 88:63

I am confident that as I purposefully follow the commandments that I will not be led astray again.  As I keep and maintain that 1% gains each day I am fortifying my armor. 

Elder David A. Bednar of the quorum of the twelve Apostles has been known to say, “If you read the Book of Mormon (and I might just add all scripture) every day, you will never fall away”. 

Now, after talking about all of this, I’d like to just tie this all up in a tight little bow and tell you that if you just keep your habits strong that you will be fully protected.  But you know it’s never that easy.  And it’s  funny how in each of these podcasts that I prepare, it seems like I have to go through my own little test, so to speak, of what I’m trying to share.  

So of course last week I had a few days where the adversary got in and tried to use his biggest tool, that he uses with me personally.  Which is discouragement.  I started thinking, “Is this even worth it?”  Does anyone even hear or get anything out of what I’m preparing?’  And for a while I just wanted to quit everything.  Well not everything, but you know how when it rains it pours and you tend to just sit down in the middle of the puddle and get soaked?  

But it wasn’t long before I remembered, this is Satan’s tool that he is using against me.  So I looked at some of my habits.  And quickly realized that I’d let a few things slide and that’s when he makes his  move. 

So this is where I want you to look at your life and see if you can find those patterns that seem to take you away from the good and solid habits that you’re working on daily.  Is it deception, discouragement, distraction, rejection, busyness, stress, etc.  See if there isn’t a way that you can start to fire back at the adversary using the contrast of those emotions.  It’s not easy!  The first part is recognizing that it’s even happening.  

So my invitation to you today is to just start to notice.  Just notice when things seem not quite how you’d like them to be.  And then go back and look at what you can change by just 1% to ward off those fiery darts.  I know you can do it.  You’re strong, you’re capable and you’ve got the Lord on your side!  With Him nothing is impossible.  That’s it for today my friends.  Remember,  choose hope, choose joy and choose to stay!  Talk to you all again soon!

Oh and if you or someone you know has a trial that you have been able to get through or are working through with the help of our Savior, please contact me so we can get you on the podcast. 

Choose to find joy

One of my favorite scriptures comes from the Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 2: 24-25 

24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. 25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

In Dallin H. Oakes’ talk “Opposition in all things”  he says

“Our mortal life…. was never meant to be easy or consistently pleasant. Our Heavenly Father … knows that we learn and grow and become refined through hard challenges, heartbreaking sorrows, and difficult choices. Each one of us experiences dark days when our loved ones pass away, painful times when our health is lost, feelings of being forsaken when those we love seem to have abandoned us. These and other trials present us with the real test of our ability to endure.”

When sore trials come upon us we are faced with all kinds of new and difficult choices. And many times these decisions and choices that we have to make seem impossible to end up with a happy result.    However, the Lord wants us to have joy in this life.  That is why we were sent here. The choice that Eve made when she chose to partake of the fruit, provided the opportunity for life to begin for us.  In the midst of what Adam and Eve believed was a big failure, God turned into something beautiful and joyful.  

Was that the end of their trials?  Of course not, they had only just begun to learn the answers to the questions that they did not even know they had.

 In order for us to progress and be able to make choices and have agency, opposition has an essential role.  In 2 Nephi 2:11  We read: For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, …. righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one;

Elder Oakes continues: “From the beginning, agency and opposition were central to the Father’s plan and to Satan’s rebellion against it. As the Lord revealed to Moses, in the council of heaven Satan “sought to destroy the agency of man” (Moses 4:3). That destruction was inherent in the terms of Satan’s offer. He came before the Father and said, “Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor” (Moses 4:1).

And while that may have seemed like a great plan on the outside, without agency there could have been no joy, because we would have never known sadness there could be no growth because our choices would be taken away from us.  So you can see the importance of our Savior’s plan to give us the opportunity to choose for ourselves.  

Choosing joy is not to say that you are happy every minute of every day.  It is an overarching feeling of peace and gladness that will sustain us through our weaknesses and difficulties.

In today’s changing world we are taught to believe that everything is about equality and to a certain extent that is true.  We are equally all of God’s children, and He equally loves us all. But unfortunately, we are not equally born or raised in the same situations.  God is no respecter of persons.  He loves us all regardless of where we come from or what we do.  In contrast, the adversary is the one that wants to control us.  He has a great hold upon the hearts of people in this world.  He wants us to believe that our choices do not have consequences.  That we can do anything we want that makes us happy, regardless of how it may affect others.   

And that is just not God’s way.  In order for us to learn how to have a joyful heart, we have to make the tough choices and take responsibility for whatever the consequences may be.

When you pondered upon the questions that we talked about yesterday, who am I?  Why am I here? Where am I going? What did you learn about yourself?  Did you get down on your knees and pray to understand?  Those really are some deep questions that many of us struggle with all the time. Finding true joy is a journey but once we find it, we will know.  It will sustain us when things become difficult.

 I believe that there is a difference in being happy and having joy.  There are definitely ways that we can be happy and have fun in our lives.  But happiness is fleeting.  It is not something that we can have consistently with us just because of the nature of how our lives were created.

Joy, on the other hand, is a sustaining feeling.  It can be with us even in the sad times and difficult trials.  But we still have to choose it.  

And the truth of the matter is, we must learn how to discover deep and abiding joy by trying. By making difficult decisions and choices for ourselves.  God will not live our lives for us because he wants us to know for ourselves. And once we know for ourselves where that peace and joy comes from, we will strive harder to make the choices that will ensure that we do live a joyful life.  Even during the hard.  

Have a great day my friends!  Talk to you again tomorrow!

XO Wendy

Cast thy burden upon the Lord

I am going to tell you about my very first real experience with true grace in my life.  I was around 27-28 years old.  And had a growing, flourishing family.  I had 4 children that were under the age of around 8.  

I had struggled with depression for some time at this point and quite frankly,I just needed a break from all the chaos just for a little while. It was a beautiful Sunday morning  And so I did something that I really never did at that time.  I faked sick and had my husband take the children to church.  

I really didn’t fake it totally.  Depression is most definitely a sickness.  But on this particular day, I just felt like if I didn’t get a break, I wasn’t going to make it one more day.  Just to be clear, I was not suicidal, I just needed time to regroup.  And 3 glorious hours to myself, sounded heavenly!  At that time in the history of our church we spent 3 hours on the sabbath worshipping our Savior in the church building.

I  was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday saints, and so I’d had many experiences learning about repentance, forgiveness and grace.  But had only applied it to my life in a few instances.  I thought that repentance was for the really wrong things that you had done in your life, not something that I needed to do on a continual basis.  I know, pretty naive. 

Now I feel like repentance, forgiveness, and grace, are kind of like learning to ride a bike.  At first it might be difficult and you may be a little wobbly and require trainging wheels to begin with.  But once you learn, and those training wheels come off, you never forget the feeling of freedom you have,  I know that because I was a bit of a slow learner.  

I didn’t learn to ride a bike without training wheels until I was about 7 and all my friends had already learned.  It was one of my best friends in the neighborhood who taught me how on her little red bike.  I had gotten a cool shwinn with a basket for Christmas but it was a bit big for me still, which I think is why it took me longer.  My friend Shelly, was so patient. She taught me how to balance and get my footing.  She would walk with me each time we tried.  And when I fell, she would get on the bike and show me the way again.  

It wasn’t long before she was running beside me to catch me if I fell.  But I had it down now, I was so proud!  It was an exhilarating feeling, the wind in my hair and the gratitude that comes with accomplishment of something difficult.

Now let’s go back to Sunday that I faked sick.  Just to give a little context, I had been a bit of a wild teenager.  I had some rebellious years where I made a lot of stupid choices, as teenagers sometimes do.  But by this time I had already taken care of those experiences through the repentance process.  But I had a hard time forgiving myself for the stupid choices that I made during that time in my life.  It seemed it would crop up and make me feel like I didn’t take care of it properly, or that I somehow wasn’t worthy to have the grace promised by the Savior.  

Of course now I know, that all of that was just the adversary trying to keep me from moving forward and progressing.  He really does that!  He will try everything, especially when you are being obedient to the covenants that you have made with the Lord.  His greatest joy is to have power over you. 

On that Sunday morning, I happened to be feeling especially unworthy, I had just skipped church for no good reason. And made my husband take on that responsibility, knowing that it would be difficult to keep all 4 children under control and get them to where they needed to be, when it was time to go to Sunday school and primary.  That’s what we call the worship for all our little children in our faith.

The longer it went the more guilty I felt.  Even though it was a small thing, Satan began to work on me bringing up all the mistakes of the past and my mistakes and failings as a young parent.  

Finally I opened up my scriptures and in the front of it, nicely folded from age.  Was a blessing that in my church we receive at some point in our lives that we feel is given for direction and to help guide us here in our life on this side of the veil.  It is something that we hold very sacred, specifically given to us, and not to be shared lightly with others.  I hadn’t read mine in quite some time.  I picked up the worn piece of paper and began to read.  The words on the page seemed to jump out at me.  Even though I’d read it dozens of times.  Nuggets of wisdom and strength poured into my worn out mind and even my physical body.  I began to highlight specific phrases and was guided to the parts that made me realize that though I had made all of those mistakes years ago and had taken care of it with the Lord.  I never forgot about it. 

In Isaiah chapter 1 verse 18, we read, Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” 

Again, in the fifty-eighth section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verse 42, which came with great force to my mind, we read, “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.”

That scripture came into my mind with such force and I knew that the Lord was telling me, it’s time to forget those things.  I have forgotten them, now it’s your turn to forgive yourself.  He promises us that through the holy ghost He will bring all things to our remembrance.  And at that time I needed to remember that his grace will always be there to catch me when I fall.

I don’t need the training wheels anymore, once I’ve taken them off and released that burden, I can fly forward and go as far and as fast as I want, as long as I remember that His grace will always be with me.  His grace is sufficient. 

Forgiving ourselves for the stupid choices that we make is one of the most glorious parts of grace that the Savior gives us. Psalm 55:22 “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

Today my invitation to you is to take that thing that’s holding you back and like the training wheels, throw it out. It is of no use to you anymore. You are His, and He is yours!

Have a great weekend my friends and I will catch you all again next week!

XO, Wendy 

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